The History Of Bodybuilding

The History of Bodybuilding – The Greatest in Bodybuilding History (Could Be You)


Eugene Sandow Poses For His Book
Eugene Sandow Poses For His Book

“The Father of Modern Bodybuilding,” Eugene Sandow, popularized bodybuilding in the late 19th century. He was an incredibly strong man and is known in the bodybuilding circles as the founders of physical aesthetics. And with his high profile and reputation in the industry, he capitalized by publishing how to books, sharing his knowledge. Later, he organized the “Great Competition” on September 1901, the first ever bodybuilding contest that was a huge success. Its modern version, “Mr. Olympia,” is the most prestigious bodybuilding competition joined by top bodybuilders in the world, which many aspiring champion bodybuilders also take part to be recognized for their hard work and dedication in the arena. 8 time Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman, is a happy customer and is proudly sponsored by UGE!

Through the years, due to the increasing number of bodybuilding competitions, bodybuilders have been stealing the spotlight at sporting events and expos.

Before bodybuilding became the monster industry now, it has had a long history – a very rich history that will surprise you.

If you’re a budding bodybuilder looking to learn of this sport, you will be taken into ancient Greece, where the first athletes trained in gymnasiums, or ‘naked place’ in the Greek words. While bodybuilding had been a passion for many Greeks, they were not using resistance training to bulk up or build muscle, but only to improve their sports performance.

One of the most notable athletes was Milo, an Olympic wrestling champion who historians highlighted to having had carried a calf on his back, as part of his training. This routine was what he used to do everyday; until such time that the calf actually became a bull, an illustration of progressive resistance training.

Bernarr MacFadden in the famous David pose
Bernarr MacFadden in the famous David pose

In the early 1900s,’Weakness was a crime,’ something that another industry influencer in this era noted, Bernarr Macfadden (Bernard), the “Father of Physical Culture.” He changed his name from ‘Bernard’ to ‘Bernarr’ believing that the latter showed more strength. He became a notable figure and a very distinguished man at that. And using his influence, he published books and was a forerunner of Physical Culture Magazine. It was also Macfadden that organized different bodybuilding competitions, which went on for years, for both men and women. Another notable achievement was the emergence of Charles Atlas as the “Most Perfectly Developed Man” in 1921.

In the 1930s, more competitions joined by sports athletes, including boxers, swimmers and gymnasts, were introduced. During this time, however, weightlifting wasn’t still considered a sport, but it was what was expected from athletes to achieve the perfect physique through other sports. Then in 1939, Mr. America contest was created in which different competitors were not really bodybuilders but any athlete with great physique, a distinct advantage.

In 1945 came the emergence of Clarence Ross who was known as the first modern bodybuilder. He wouldn’t only train using weights, but also used them in proportioning and shaping his body just as the Grecian ideal would be. It was also in this decade when the International Federation of Bodybuilders (IFBB) was formed by the Weider brothers. This organization attends to the needs of weightlifters as well as makes sure that they had a strong and stable platform, and in 1949, the organization created IFBB Mr. America.

Bodybuilding, in the 1950s, kept progressing. Before, the public was uninterested and uninformed about bodybuilding and its competitions – that all changed quickly. Steve Reeves carved a niche for bodybuilding – starring in the movies helped him and bodybuilding take the spotlight. He was a former bodybuilder winning Mr. America in 1947, Mr. World in 1948 and Mr. Universe in 1950. He had an incredible form and strength, not mentioning he also had an almost perfect definition, mass and proportion, and so he was considered the ‘Arnold Schwarzenegger’ of this time. He played many roles, such as playing the iconic ‘Hercules’ in Italian film series, the role that inspired the young Arnold by then.

The next decade (1960s) was known the arrival of mass monsters because weightlifters at this time tended to look better and bigger, specifically due to the emergence of the science of conditioning and nutrition.

Larry Scott
Larry Scott

Joe Weider created Mr. Olympia in 1965 so that the winners of another competition, Mr. Universe, could still compete, and since its inception and introduction, Mr. Olympia is still regarded as the highest recognition a bodybuilder would achieve in professional bodybuilding because the emerging winner is always recognized as the best weightlifter in the world. Its first winner was Larry Scott who also won his second title the following year, 1966. Scott was the most respected of all in his time, making numerous appearances a fitness model in magazines, including Demi Gods, Mr. America, Muscleboy, Muscle Builder and The Young Physique, resulting to a phenomenon known as Larry Fever.

Then in 1970s, the ‘Austrian Oak,’ Arnold Schwarzenegger, who won Mr. Olympia title at a record-breaking six times until 1975, was the star of this time. In the later part of the 1970s, extremely low body fat became a deciding factor in contests, allowing Frank Zane and his very lean appearance winning three Olympia titles from 1977-1979.

In the 1980s, there came a new bodybuilding star, Lee Haney, who broke Arnold’s record for winning eight Mr. Olympia titles (1981-1991) because he had everything conditioning, proportion, symmetry and mass. However, Lee Haney’s dominance came to an end in 1992 after Dorian Yates won Olympia from 1992 until 1997, his retirement. The biggest in bodybuilding then came in 2000s, Ronnie “Big Ron” Coleman, who holds the record of most wins in IFBB with 26, and is tied with Lee Haney for most number of Mr Olympia wins.

Today, millions still enjoy bodybuilding and fitness. Throughout history, it has shown to offer a multitude of physical and mental benefits. And if you would like to start your bodybuilding career and become the next greatest in the sports of weightlifting, you probably know by now how competitive it is and how you can start bulking up and toning your body and muscle to enter a bodybuilding competition.

At the, we have helped thousands of bodybuilders train with the best remanufactured selectorized and plate-loaded equipment, not mentioning we did so by offering them only the best brands of training machines, including Life Fitness, Precor and TechnoGym, among others.

Should you require more information about our bodybuilding equipment, feel free to give us a call at +1 (310) 638 4800 or emailing us today!